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Are TSA PreCheck and Clear Worth It?

Preclearance memberships are an ideal way to beat the crowds and easily navigate security lines

by Alexander Deutsch

February 7, 2023

Photo: Overhead sign showing security check point lanes designated for first class and TSA Precheck / Photo: RYO Alexandre/Shutterstock

Travel is back, and flights are full. Families who haven’t traveled in a while may have a stressful time going through airports with extra luggage and children who aren’t used to traveling. If you hate long lines, reduce the hassle by signing up for TSA PreCheck or Clear.

What is TSA PreCheck?

TSA PreCheck is an expedited screening program to speed through security. Children ages 12 and under, including babies traveling with an eligible parent or guardian, do not need a membership to use these lanes.

Can children use TSA PreCheck?

Children ages 13 to 17 do not need membership either, as they can access the TSA PreCheck lanes when traveling on the same itinerary as an eligible adult. One caveat: Children may be randomly excluded from receiving the TSA PreCheck logo on their boarding pass (this also happens to adults). As a result, they must go through the standard security screening process.

CLEAR, line at TSA security checkpoint at Reagan National Airport / Photo: David Tran Photo/Shutterstock

How do you sign up for TSA PreCheck?

Signing up for TSA PreCheck requires a $78 application fee. If you’re already approved for the Global Entry, SENTRI or Nexus programs, you automatically get a TSA PreCheck membership. Many travel cards reimburse fees as part of their benefits. Some credit card brands with this benefit include American Express, Chase, Capital One and Citi.

What is Clear?

Clear is a membership that uses biometrics to allow people to bypass security lines and verify their identity without needing to show ID in more than 50 cities across the U.S.

How do you sign up for Clear?

Clear costs $189 per year. Children under 18 can go through the line with an adult for free. Delta, United and AmEx offer special pricing if travelers sign up with Clear through their sites. Membership is renewed annually, but numerous travel cards/programs can lower your fees.